Friday, December 20, 2013

Blast From The Past!: More From the Old Apartment

More pics from the old apartment! I'm sure I said before that so much of what you see here influenced my design aesthetic of today. The idea that you can take a barren old space and create something entirely new has followed me here to the church I now own. Again, I apologize for the quality of these photos. They are from over 20 years ago and digital photography was in the single digit megapixels.

We filled empty spaces with items that delineated the space. Stained glass...who knew I would wind up with so much of it now!

This is a desk made entirely out of windows. You might say we had a window fetish. We found a lot of them at an auction...something like 30 windows, and we paid $20 for them. What a bargain!!!

Another view. The one draw back to a mostly glass desk we found, that you are always dusting it.

One of the many bathrooms. Oy, cleaning them all was such a chore! Again, we used old windows as the shower doors.

Another bathroom! This one has record covers as the flooring. Many coats of polyurethane were needed so that it could be mopped.

And yet ANOTHER bathroom! This one has a painted floor and again, old windows were used for the shower doors.

Here's a beauty shot of the window desk. What you can't see in this pic is that this room was also a closet. All of the clothes are suspended from the ceiling on racks that are attached to a motorized wire system. That way, when you needed to get dressed you just lower the racks and otherwise, they are out of the way. It was a great system until one night we heard a huge bang. One of the hook systems had come out of the ceiling, and there were clothes and destruction everywhere. Yes, the window desk met it's demise that evening. It was nice while it lasted.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Soup's On! - Roasted Cauliflower & Smoked Gouda Soup

Look everyone! A new feature!!! I know I've been gone for a bit, but what better gift upon my return than to introduce a new feature? I have to preface this post with a bit of background. 

I've never made soup. Let me rephrase, I've never made soup that didn't start out by opening the can and finished with the words "Add water". I was raised on Campbell's! It's all I knew. Many years ago someone (I have no idea who) gave me an entire cookbook full of nothing but soup recipes. That book has sat on the shelf with the rest of my cookbooks for well over 20 years.

Now that I'm single again (long story, short Post-It Note!), I thought this would be a great time to attempt to dabble in the liquid food arts (Liquid food arts that didn't involve cocktails, I mean).

Being that I am following a Low-Carb lifestyle at the moment, this has meant that I need to stay away from noodle soups and anything that might incorporate dumplings of any size, shape or texture. I did some online research and found some amazing soups that I am going to try and then share with you here. Yes, the cookbook is still on the shelf. I just find that the internet has a lot more lurking out there than any book could provide me. That, and you can't Google search a book!

My first foray into the hot and bubbling liquid food arts is a Roasted Cauliflower & Smoked Gouda Soup. Granted, the recipe called for aged white cheddar cheese, but I am a huge fan of smoked gouda so I went with that. Other than that change I followed the recipe to the letter (Something, I don't usually do). I didn't want to screw this up by attempting "Flair!". You will find the recipe at the end of the post, but first, lets talk about the process and see some pictures.

Roasted Cauliflower goodness!

I have never been a huge fan of Cauliflower. I mean, any vegetable you have to cover in cheese to tolerate, can't be all that great. Roasted tho, it is amazing! For this recipe, you toss it in oil...salt and pepper it and let it roast for 30 minutes in the oven. What you get are toasted nuggets of goodness that I just wanted to eat off the pan.

You could stop right here...but you don't!

You add the roasted Cauliflower to onions, garlic, Thyme and chicken stock. That combination gets cooked for 30 more minutes until the Cauliflower is soft and then you grab your Immersion Blender and go to town! 

I had bought an Immersion Blender years ago, and it has languished in the "Special Utensil Drawer" forever. I never had a chance to use it...until now! Once you blend up the soup you then add the cheese and cook it without boiling it any longer until all the cheese is melted. What you wind up with is this...

And yes, you then add some bacon to it!
What I wound up with was an incredibly creamy and delicious soup. Till all is said and done, you don't even really taste the Cauliflower. It lends a delightful bulk to the dish which makes it quite filling.

Roasted Cauliflower & Smoked Gouda Soup


               1        small head cauliflower- cut into florets
               2        tablespoons oil, additional oil for saute
               1        medium onion diced
               2        cloves garlic chopped
               1        teaspoon thyme chopped
               3        cups chicken stock
               11/2   cups smoked gouda cheese grated
               1        cup milk, cream or half & half
                         salt & pepper to taste


1.  Toss the cauliflower florets in the oil along with salt and pepper and arrange them in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
2.  Roast the cauliflower in a preheated 400 degree oven until golden brown. Approx 30 minutes.
3.  Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender. Approx 5-7 minutes.
4.  Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
5.  Add the broth, deglaze the pan, add the cauliflower, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes.
6.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is of an even consistency. Reduce stove heat to insure the mixture no longer boils.
7.  Slowly add and stir in the cheese.
8.  Add the milk/cream/half & half, stirring constantly and ensuring that the soup doesn't boil or burn.
9.  Season with salt & pepper to taste. Serve, adding crispy bacon or addition cheese as garnish (or both even!) 

I hope everyone enjoys this recipe. Let me know if you try it out and what the results were in the comments section.